DACONO — City Council passed two measures Feb. 25 regarding marijuana — one for medical purposes and one for recreational.
On the medical front, council unanimously finalized the wording for a special election question that voters will take up May 7, whether to permit a limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within city limits.
But before Dacono voters can weigh in on the question, a contradiction within the original wording of the ballot question needed to be resolved.
The contradiction originated last year, when petitioners submitted the request for the special election. The original language of the petition would have allowed the dispensaries with valid business licenses to operate within the city.
But the “valid business license” wording of the petition produced an unintended consequence.
This petition was in response to a ban on all dispensaries approved by council last summer, but council’s ban also meant that no business would have a valid license if Dacono voters lifted the ban.
City Administrator A.J. Euckert said city staff met with dispensary owners during a work session Feb. 12 to find a solution.
“We’ve been working with them, the business, very cordially, which is pleasing,” Euckert said. “We all agreed that the petitioners would withdraw that submitted ordinance and replace it with one passed by council working with everyone.”
Euckert said despite the differences in view points on medical marijuana, there was a consensus that the city’s voters should decide on the intended goal of the petition without technical distractions.
Representatives of all three of the dispensary businesses in operation in 2012 were present at the work session.
“There was some conflicting language, but the biggest hurdle was that the original ordinance when it was written, they drafted it, we believe, with the intention that this would be passed — or approved or put in place — before the end of last year,” Euckert said referring to the Dec. 31, 2012, effective date for the dispensary ban.
But the petition effort has made other errors that has caused delays and pushed the vote past into 2013.
An earlier petition had called on voters to approve an additional tax on medical marijuana sales. But in Colorado, all tax increases are subject to the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, which stipulates that such increases cannot be decided on special election dates.
Council is scheduled to do a second reading of this wording change during its March meeting.
With this hurdle removed, the question will then be ready for voters to decide.
The unanimous decision on the medical marijuana ballot question was a move away from the traditional battle lines that have divided council.
Those divisions were present on the other ordinance decided that night: a second reading of ordinance 722, which amends the city’s municipal code to prohibit non-dispensary marijuana establishments.
Amendment 64, which was approved by the state’s electorate last November, legalized retail marijuana sales and possession for recreational purposes. But the amendment also gave local governments the ability to opt out of the retail industry.
Council voted 4-2 last month on the first reading, and this month the vote was the same, with council members Gen Schnieder and Steve Bruno voting against the ban.